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NCAA Bracket 2019: Updated Schedule and Predictions After Thursday's 1st Round

Megan ArmstrongContributor IIIMarch 22, 2019

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 21:  Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers celebrates while playing in the second half of the first round game of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Marquette Golden Eagles at XL Center on March 21, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

There were only four upsets on the opening day of the NCAA tournament Thursday, but there could've been more. 

All No. 12 New Mexico State needed was for junior guard Terrell Brown to make at least two of his three free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining and No. 5 Auburn leading 78-76. Unfortunately for the Aggies, Brown only converted one, and Auburn will face No. 4 Kansas in the second round. 

No. 3 LSU narrowly defeated No. 14 Yale 79-74 thanks in part to Yale's 4-of-30 shooting from three in the first half. 

No. 6 Maryland and No. 6 Villanova—also the reigning champion—almost suffered first-round upsets but lived to play another day. 

As for teams who pulled off upsets, No. 12 Murray State demolished No. 5 Marquette 83-64, while No. 9 Baylor sent No. 8 Syracuse home from the NCAA tournament without a win for the first time since 2006

Meanwhile, No. 7 Wofford claimed the first NCAA tournament victory in program history, beating No. 10 Seton Hall, while senior guard Fletcher Magee set the record for most made three-pointers in NCAA Division I history with 509.

Below, dig into scheduling for Friday's first-round games and Saturday's second-round slate as well as predictions. 

         

NCAA Tournament Schedule

All times Eastern

         

Friday, March 22—First Round

No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes, 12:15 p.m. on CBS

No. 8 Mississippi Rebels vs. No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners, 12:40 p.m. on truTV

No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. No. 14 Northern Kentucky Norse, 1:30 p.m. on TNT

No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats vs. No. 13 UC Irvine Anteaters, 2 p.m. on TBS

No. 2 Tennessee Volunteers vs. No. 15 Colgate Raiders, 2:45 p.m. on CBS

No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers vs. No. 16 Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs, 3:10 p.m. on truTV

No. 6 Buffalo Bulls vs. No. 11 Arizona State Sun Devils, 4 p.m. on TNT

No. 12 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers, 4:30 p.m. on TBS

No. 8 Utah State Aggies vs. No. 9 Washington Huskies, 6:50 p.m. on TNT

No. 1 Duke Blue Devils vs. No. 16 North Dakota State Bison, 7:10 p.m. on CBS

No. 3 Houston Cougars vs. No. 14 Georgia State Panthers, 7:20 p.m. on TBS

No. 5 Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. No. 12 Liberty Flames, 7:27 p.m. on truTV

No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. No. 16 Iona Gaels, 9:20 p.m. on TNT

No. 8 VCU Rams vs. No. 9 UCF Knights, 9:40 p.m. on CBS

No. 6 Iowa State Cyclones vs. No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes, 9:50 p.m. on TBS

No. 4 Virginia Tech Hokies vs. No. 13 Saint Louis Billikens, 9:57 p.m. on truTV

      

Saturday, March 23—Second Round

No. 3 LSU Tigers vs. No. 6 Maryland Terrapins, 12:10 p.m. on CBS

No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 7 Wofford Terriers, following LSU-Maryland on CBS

No. 2 Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 10 Florida Gators, 5:15 p.m. on CBS

No. 4 Florida State Seminoles vs. No. 12 Murray State Racers, 6:10 p.m. on TNT

No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. No. 9 Baylor Bears, 7:10 p.m. on TBS

No. 2 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 10 Minnesota Golden Gophers, following Florida-Michigan on CBS

No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers vs. No. 6 Villanova Wildcats, following Florida State-Murray State on TNT

No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks vs. No. 5 Auburn Tigers, following Gonzaga-Baylor on TBS

The tournament's full schedule is available at NCAA.com

            

Predictions

Ja Morant Cements Murray State as Tournament's Most Dangerous Dark Horse

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 21:  Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers dunks the ball during the second half of the first round game of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Marquette Golden Eagles at XL Center on March 21, 2019 in Ha
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Murray State is being referred to as Morant State after Ja Morant posted the first triple-double in the men's NCAA tournament since Draymond Green in 2012 in the Racers' dismantling of Marquette.  

Morant dropped 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds, and that assist total makes Murray State a threat to make a deep run in March and maybe even April. 

Morant is the headliner, but he wasn't the leading scorer on his team Thursday (Tevin Brown, 19 points). His ability to ensure his teammates are getting involved makes him lethal. The boss-like dunks are just aesthetic icing: 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Ja Morant. WOW. https://t.co/XBsYBrOb4d

Marquette junior forward Sacar Anim and freshman forward Brendan Bailey were tasked with guarding Morant, and the former told ESPN's Myron Medcalf after the game how frustrating it was. "You think you got him stopped and then he just passes to one of his teammates in the paint," Bailey said. 

Anim highlighted Morant's maddening ability to put "passes on the money" and get his teammates open shots.

The question shouldn't yet be where Morant may land in the NBA draft—though his father had a bold prediction—but rather how deep he can lead the Racers in this tournament. 

Up next are the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles, who struggled Thursday against No. 13 Vermont. If Florida State experiences the same sort of scoring droughts Saturday, chances are Morant will make them pay.

               

No. 12 Oregon Primed to Perpetuate 12-over-5 Theory vs. Wisconsin on Friday

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 16:  Kenny Wooten #14 of the Oregon Ducks celebrates on the court after a Washington Huskies turnover during the championship game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 16, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Perhaps the most popular upset picks in brackets across America include No. 12 seeds over No. 5 seeds. Murray State already validated the longstanding theory, and the 12th-seeded Oregon Ducks are in strong position to upset the No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers on Friday.

Wisconsin Basketball @BadgerMBB

21. Over the last 5 seasons, Wisconsin is 30-10 in the month of March: 10-3 | Regular Season 8-5 | Big Ten Tournament 12-2 | NCAA Tournament #Fieldof64 // #MarchMadness

Oregon is riding an eight-game winning streak, including a Pac-12 tournament title. In the conference final, the Ducks stifled the top-seeded Washington Huskies 68-48. 

"We haven't seen anything like how Oregon does on defense," Badgers sophomore guard D'Mitrik Trice told James Crepea of The Oregonian.

Crepea pointed out that if Oregon's defensive statistics from the last eight games were averaged throughout a season, they would lead the country. During that span, Ducks opponents are averaging 54.3 points, 34.6 percent shooting from the field and 23.1 percent shooting from behind the arc. 

The biggest threat to the upset is Wisconsin's similar ability to suffocate opponents. According to KenPom, Wisconsin ranks third in adjusted defensive efficiency. Not to mention Oregon's strength—athleticism paired with length—can be found in Wisconsin senior forward Ethan Happ, who leads the team in points, rebounds and assists. 

If only 7'2" Bol Bol (foot injury) were available for the Ducks to make it all the more exciting.

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